Title: Duskfall (Chaos Queen #1)
Author: Christopher Husberg
Enjoyment Rating: 5/5
Source: Audiobook from Audible
Winter, a quiet, seemingly insignificant Tiellan (elvish) woman stands to marry Knot, a mysterious human man her father had pulled from a frozen sea the year before, pierced by arrows and close to death. Their wedding is disrupted by a band of men, and Knot surprises even himself when he kills the men with violent precision. Knot abandons his new wife in a quest to find out who he is and how he came to possess such deadly skills. Winter is not content to stay behind. She enlists her best friend, Lian, and goes in search of her husband. Winter encounters Kali and Nash who introduce her to Frost, a drug that allows her to access psimantic abilities that give her strength and power to take on the forces that stand in her way. They cross paths with the priestess Cinzia, whose family is caught up in a heretical rebellion that endangers her sister and everyone else in the town they expect to find Knot. Can Winter control her growing addiction to Frost in order to stay focused on her goal? Even after risking everything to find Knot, will he accept her when she finds him?
Duskfall is a dark fantasy novel from debut author Christopher Husberg. Chris is a friend of mine from grad school (plus we attended the same ward! plus our spouses have worked together for many years!). I pre-ordered the paperback, but quickly realized I was too eager to read the book for the short amount of time I have at night to sit down with a hard copy. I bought the audiobook and listened during every spare second I had (walking my dog, washing dishes, folding laundry. . . you get the idea). Knowing Chris guaranteed I would read the book, but it did not guarantee I would love it, which I did.
I liked the characters and how well their motivations tied in with their actions, but what I especially liked was how gently Chris unfolds the world he built. The trouble I have with some fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian novels is that the authors sometimes leave their readers in the dark, confused about the world or magic system to the point of frustration. Not here. At every turn it was clear there was more to learn, but I felt guided rather than blinded. If anything, I am frustrated that only the first book of the quintet has been released, but I am confident that the future books will be worth the wait.